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If You Wake Up

"If You Wake Up" encourages a child to self-soothe back to sleep when awoken by city sounds at night.

Photo of Melissa Dodd
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If you wake up in the middle of the night,

Think of my love and me holding you tight.

     (Can you count the hearts with me?)

If you wake up to a dark room above,

Think of the moon and the stars that you love.

     (Have you seen the moon outside?)

If you wake up when a horn honks outside,

Think of a truck strong and shiny and wide.

     (How many tires do you see?)

If you wake up to a big booming bark,

Think of a dog playing catch in the park.

     (Do you see any birds in the park?)

If you wake up to a sound overhead,

Think of a plane passing over your bed.

     (Can you point to the airplane?)

If you wake up in the early light’s dawn,

Think of your dreams as you let out a yawn.

Now close your eyes tightly and fall fast asleep,

Though you might wake up to bark, bang or beep.

Big trains, some workers, or maybe a bird,

Loud people talking or plane engine whir...

If you wake up in the middle of the night,

Think of my love and me holding you tight.

     (Are you feeling okay?)

Take a deep breath from the sky up above,

And think of the moon and the stars that you love!

     (Would you like a hug?)

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

While neighborhoods vary in in any urban setting, there are universal sounds that wake us all up at night including barks, beeps, trains, planes, cars and even loud voices. If You Wake Up helps the child to find comfort in these familiar sounds and to fall back to sleep.

Share your suggested book title

If You Wake Up

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

Language: We use consistent phrasing patterns and syllabic structure, repetition of words, and simple tier 1 vocabulary. Alliteration groups words like bang, bark and beep. Reader Encouragement: The book will show the caregiver reading to the child while holding them tight. Matching / Finding: The dawn and dreams segment is a chance for the reader or child to pick out, label or ask about the action. There will also be a repetitive object throughout – e.g. a bird at the window, on the car, in the park, in the street as the plane flies by, etc., that the child will enjoy picking out on each page. Locating a sound “overhead” helps the child to understand location. Song-Like: The story is fun to read and can be sung as a lullaby before bed. ESL: To make the book more comfortable for all caregivers, we chose easier-to-pronounce words over notably difficult words for Spanish or Chinese ESL speakers (e.g. bark vs ruff).

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

We live in downtown Philadelphia and these are some of the many varied sounds that wake up our household at night! While no city is perfect - and most are very noisy and chaotic for children - Philadelphia is also an amazing place to raise a child. We have the most public city pools of any city in the country. There are a dozen city parks within a one mile radius of us. There are festivals and child-friendly events almost every weekend. There is also a new free program funding pre-schools in the city which makes early education more widely available to the children living here. We feel very lucky to live here.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

We focused on urban noise as a major aspect of city living. The manuscript acts as a guide to help children build distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills when woken up at night; these are important skills for all kids but are especially important for kids in chaotic urban settings (which can lend to and go hand-in-hand with chaotic home settings). The book also supports emotional validation by never trying to label the sound as “good or bad” or the child's feelings (scared, surprised or delighted) but instead letting the child trust in whatever emotion they naturally feel in response to the sound.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

We are parents raising a two and a half year old in downtown Philadelphia. Oren is a full time parent who also conducts workshops to teach new parents how to encourage independence and emotional well-being in children. Melissa earns money recording voice-overs for commercials and video games, conducting media training and helping organizations to create story-worthy strategic narratives. It’s a pleasure to have the chance to represent the sound-and-sight density of urban living while considering the special needs of young children to feel bonded, held and capable. We wrote this book because we thought it was a novel way to combine literacy development with the immensely important skills of emotion regulation and distress tolerance. We want children to feel emotionally validated while also feeling capable of putting themselves back to sleep - regardless of how noisy and unsettling urban life can be at times.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Melissa published a print-on-demand body image guide for young women in 2001 called “Body & Self" on Amazon so is familiar with the publication process including cover design, layout and marketing.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


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Photo of HopeFullHappenings null

This is so cute! I love it!

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